SAXON HARBOR, Mich. (WZMQ) – Coast Guard Sector Sault Sainte Marie command center watchstanders received a mayday distress broadcast on Tuesday, August 29th at 11:26 a.m. from a person who reported their vessel was rapidly taking on water 4 nautical miles offshore near Saxon Harbor, Wisconsin.
The Coast Guard was able to determine the caller’s estimated position was 5 miles north of Saxon Harbor, Wisconsin, and immediately dispatched a 45-foot response boat medium from Coast Guard Station Bayfield.
After a brief search, Station Bayfield personnel located a capsized 25-foot vessel with three adults clinging to it approximately 200 yards from their commencing search point. Station Bayfield brought the survivors on board and after determining all people had been recovered from the water transported them to Emergency Medical Services who were waiting at Saxon Harbor.
“Thanks to close coordination between the Coast Guard Sector, 911 dispatch, and our boat we were able to save these people in less than an hour from when we received their mayday broadcast,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaime Rodriguez-Ayala, Station Bayfield coxswain. “They called us angels when we pulled them out of the water, and we were just so glad we were able to get there in time.”
“This clearly demonstrates how important it is to carry basic lifesaving equipment like life jackets and a VHF radio on board all vessels, even when boating recreationally, especially now that water temperatures are starting to drop down into the 50 degrees Fahrenheit range,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Edmund Foster, search and rescue mission coordinator. “Our crews were able to immediately deploy because we received a mayday over the radio. If the boaters only had a cell phone available, their call would have likely been routed to us through 911 dispatch, and even that delay of a few minutes could have caused this case to have a much more tragic outcome. Likewise, only one of the rescued boaters was wearing a life jacket, an essential piece of equipment for ensuring that, if the worst happens, you have the best possible chance of survival when the elements prevent you from being able to rescue yourself.”